We can confirm that grapes really are stomped to make port here in the Douro Valley! We witnessed two guys doing this last night at Quinta da marrocos, the charming farm/winery where we are staying in an old room with rough hewn stone walls, lots of old wood furniture and a stupendous view across the river at a large green and yellow slope ribboned with stone walls and vineyards. One of the stompers was even drinking a beer for awhile while thigh high in purple grape juice. Amazing. We had dinner and “a visit”, a long tutorial from the fourth generation owner of this vineyard, which started with touring the vines and ended, of course, by drinking many different ports. (I prefer the 20 year old pricey stuff of course)
Today we drove west to Pinhao, a laid back little fishing village and took a two hours slow mo boat ride up the river between high hills lined with vineyards and the occasional white stucco or grey stoned vineyard/hotel (including one visited by bradangelina and another by former Brit PM John Major. We ended up driving north to Alijo and having a picnic of cheese, prosciutto (whatever the Portuguese version is called) and fruit at a long picnic table in a shady sleepy square in Favaios. Then we ended up taking what turned out to be a terrifying but dazzling drive on a one lane road out of Castedo that led us onto the roads carved into the hillside that I assume are most used by grape harvesters. Dirck did a great job of driving while I kept saying “go slow, go slow” and tried not to look at the sheer drop below.
Tonight, to celebrate surviving our harrowing drive we had dinner at the elegant DOC restaurant just up the road in a dramatic modern building with an outdoor deck jutting out into the river.
So glad we came here!